Daily Prompt: What makes a good storyteller, in your opinion? Are your favorite storytellers people you know or writers you admire?
I see a good storywriter as someone who knows how to add background texture and character development to their characters. A good character is someone who is humanized to me — someone who has weaknesses and dark secrets and is constantly at odds with him/herself — a mystery waiting to be unveiled. The best characters are the ones who aren’t at all what they seem on the surface, and as the story develops you see bits of gray. None of us is perfect good or perfect bad, and so those sorts of characters are unrealistic and uninteresting to me. Everyone has situations where they’ve done things that on the surface seemed wrong or confusing, but driven by a complex set of circumstances outsiders would never know about, the decisions made perfect sense.
There’s a balance that I can’t place between what I consider bad writing, where every step of the way the reader is told exactly what they’re supposed to be thinking, and a more subtle writing where the reader infers things by shifts in someone’s actions or expressions. If the story is too “artsy”, then the complex descriptions lose the reader’s interest. In the former case, if the reader is explicitly told everything then it feels as though they’re an outsider being led by the nose. I like feeling like I’m someone standing inside the story being part of it. I care about the plot, and I care about the characters. So a good writer does a bit of both. She/he tells the reader enough to not lose them, but also gives them some freedom to weave their own imaginations through the story to wonder and conjecture.
No Comebacks by Frederick Forsyth is an excellent example of very good storywriting.